11 July 2018 Wednesday 10:23pm
“Losing a loved one has a way of putting everything in perspective… please explain that one to me.”
That was a tweet from someone I follow on Twitter. He recently lost his 19 year-old son who died in his sleep. Can you please help us understand the phrase “has a way of putting everything in perspective”? Which I believe people like to say to someone who has just had a devastating or traumatic experience happen in their life.
What does the word “perspective” mean?
I found two relevant meanings on Dictionary app: One—the state of one’s ideas, the facts known to one, etc., in having a meaningful interrelationship.” Sample sentence is: “You have to live here a few years to see local conditions in perspective.” And the second meaning is “the faculty of seeing all the relevant data in a meaningful relationship.” Sample sentence is: “Your data is admirably detailed but it lacks perspective.”
Why do you think these two definitions are relevant to our discussion?
Well, because they mention the word “relationship”. Isn’t our discussion about relationships?
Yes, it is. So now repeat that statement above and let’s see how the definitions relate to it.
Okay. “Losing a loved one has a way of putting everything in perspective.” So now, I guess I’m supposed to replace the word “perspective” with its meaning?
Go ahead. Let’s see if we can expand on it.
Here goes—Losing a loved one has a way of putting everything into showing the facts one knows about having a meaningful interrelationship. Hm, that actually makes sense.
Many of us actually know the basic principles of how to maintain a strong and loving relationship. But many of us are sometimes too busy with matters of this world that we sort of put our own relationships with ourselves and with our own family to the back burner. What I mean is—our own self-growth and family interrelationships are not at the top of our To-do list. Sometimes we learn this folly the hard way. We don’t realise we had it good until we lose it—as the saying goes. It is when we lose someone we love that we sometimes realise we could have done so, so much more in making that relationship into a loving and enriching one.
That last sentence is the explanation, my dear. But to expand even more on it—imagine the word “perspective” in that statement as a jigsaw puzzle in the shape of a heart. And that heart-shaped puzzle shows all the relationships you’ve had in a span of a lifetime. When you are born, your life is like the outline of a heart which is a jigsaw puzzle—no pieces in place yet except for that one piece which is yourself. Let’s place it right in the middle. You are now standing alone in the middle of a heart-shaped jigsaw puzzle with no piece in place. As an infant, you have no perspective yet of who you really are because you are not able to make deliberate conscious choices when it comes to relationships. You have subconscious choices, of course, like instinctively relating to your birth mother or father. You are still not aware of these choices. It is when you learn to make conscious choices that you begin to acquire the other pieces of that heart-shaped puzzle. You will be acquiring these pieces as you go along through life. So now, you have a couple of pieces which are from your mother and father. (There are now several deviations when it comes to what is a family—but let’s keep it to the basic to make for easier discussion.) You may have pieces that are from your siblings. There will be from your relatives, like your grandparents, uncles and aunties, if any. As you grow into adulthood, there will be pieces coming from your teachers, friends, co-workers, lovers, husbands and wives, children, etc, etc. Now, as you stand in the middle with all these pieces around you, you begin to see the “perspective”. You begin to see who you really are in relation to all these relationships—which we refer to here as pieces of a puzzle that is the shape of you. Because this world is actually nothing but relationships. There might be pieces that you would see as brilliant in colour and there will be those that are not so brilliant—dim, in fact, because these particular pieces of relationships do not shine that much for you. And then there will be pieces that may have cracks in them.
I know what those are—broken relationships.
What about a relationship whereby a parent loses a child that he or she loves very much? A child who never reached his or her fullest potential? What kind of jigsaw piece would that look like?
If there was immense love, then it would be a brilliant one.
But the parent’s heart is broken upon the child’s death. It can’t really have a crack on it, now can it?
You tell me how that piece would look like. After all, you have a very rich imagination.
Me? I don’t think so. Anyway, if I lost a child (touch wood) who I never saw grow up, I imagine that tiny jigsaw piece to be brilliant but there’ll be a shape of a teardrop on it. You know, like the crying emoticon.
A very good visual.
Thank you. So let’s get back to that statement. “Losing a loved one has a way of putting everything in perspective.” I’m thinking—is this meant to judge the heartbroken? Or is it meant to uplift?
The meaning of everything is the meaning you give it, my child. Imagine that you have just lost your loved one and you are grieving. You are looking at your heart-shaped jigsaw puzzle of life with all its pieces that are shining brightly and some not so bright. You have in your hand that little piece which is the symbol of your relationship with your lost loved one. That brilliant piece with a teardrop on it. Do you see any other piece that looks like that in your heart-shaped puzzle?
Of course. There’s my Dad’s piece. And then there’s that piece that represents my marriage.
Ah, your marriage. Which led to a divorce. Will that piece be brilliant or dim? Because how brilliant or how dim each piece will be is entirely up to you. Did a relationship enrich your life? Did you partake of any life lessons from it? Did it make you sad? Or depressed? Did it devastate? Is the relationship still active? Has it died?
I guess it would be brilliant because I’ve learnt a lot from it. And since I can choose how I perceive a relationship, then I want all the pieces in my heart-shaped jigsaw puzzle to be brilliant. How awesome that would look like! A heart-shaped puzzle that is so bling!
Yes, that heart would definitely shine for all the world to see. That is how the heart of a true master looks like.